viernes, 17 de agosto de 2012


Nice means pleasing, agreeable, delightful and much more. It has so many meanings that the word can be applied to almost everything we consider “nice”. It comes from the Latin nescius, silly, foolish, ignorant. Its meaning has been changing from timid to fussy, and from fussy and fastidious to delicate, and then agreeable and kind. People use words, and give them new meanings, out of ignorance, or perhaps as an attempt to be playful and fashionable, and “different”.
The Spanish necio did not evolve or change, and has retained the original meaning of ignorant, silly, foolish. (DRAE: “Necio. Ignorante y que no sabe lo que podía y debía saber.”) Both necio and nice come from the same root but now have different meanings.


MYTH: It is normal to make mistakes in a foreign language. The idea that we must not fear making mistakes seems to encourage error making. It may be normal but it is not acceptable. A good grounding in grammar will keep you in good stead always and steer you clear of basic mistakes that are not acceptable. Spanish speakers say “people is good” because gente is singular in Spanish, but that does not make it ok. “The enchiladas are good, no?” is a simple mistake that can bring awful consequences. We must try to eradicate the idea that everything goes in language speaking. Certainly not, and we must make attempts not to make mistakes.

martes, 14 de agosto de 2012


Debunking myths and legends in language learning is a Sisyphus-like task, and not a day passes by that I have to bite my tongue and hold my horses when I hear someone telling me harebrained idiocies about the nature of language, on how best to acquire a foreign language, and what to do to speed up the process, mainly as a result of legendary myths ingrained in the average human brain.

For example:

Native speakers are authorities on their language, regardless of their cultural background and formal education. In my opinion this myth stems from the fact that all monolinguists are cut from the same cloth: they believe they are masters of their tongue simply because they learnt it from birth and it is the only one they speak. They take it for granted that a Rumanian, for instance, speaks Rumanian perfectly just because he was born in Rumania and is a native. I say that a native speaker with a Ph.D. in English does not have the same proficiency as a High School dropout.

sábado, 4 de agosto de 2012

Isabel Murillo -Traductora - A sequel

My dear Oscar, Agreed that perhaps I overstepped the line of etiquette and good manners for which I apologize willingly. No skin off my back.
Your comment on the indefinite article "A" applies to the English language, and not to Spanish. Check and see how many dictionaries and histories in Spanish commence with "Una historia de los Reyes Católicos...", or "Un diccionario del inglés moderno..."
You are right again in saying that translators are poorly paid and must rush through the text in order to make a decent income. Also, publishers have the last say, of course. Still we must protest and defend our rights.
J.M. Coetzee has a nice essay, "Translating Franz Kafka", in his "Stranger Shores", that is very revealing and practical.
But, most important, I probably hurt Murillo's feelings and I tender my heartfelt apologies. Sometimes we lose our cool.
My best wishes,

La pronunciación de Certificate y village

Hay gente que me dice que tiene un nivel alto de inglés porque posee el First Certificate, y pronuncia certificate "sertífikeit", en vez de "sertífiket" y se queda tan a gusto.
Siento decirles que delicate se pronuncia "déliket" y predicate, "prediket". Otra cosas son los verbos, claro. 

Regla número uno: Asegúrese siempre de la pronunciación de las palabras en inglés. Cuando menos lo esperamos salta la liebre y hacemos reír. Blood se parece a foot, look y hook pero no se pronuncia igual. Esto a modo de ejemplo. In case of doubt, check it out.

Village es otra que tal. Se pronuncia "víllich" (más o menos) y no "víllach" como hacen los listillos que se pavonean de tener un nivel alto de inglés. Igual savage, average, usage, damage...

miércoles, 1 de agosto de 2012

Colaboro para, en lengua inglesa, sobre cuestiones gramaticales,lingüísticas y culturales. Echen una ojeada y díganme qué les parecen los articulillos. He publicado unos 70.


Ediciones Anaya me ha solicitado, y aceptado, un manuscrito sobre el estudio del inglés: "Gramática inglesa para torpes" que aparecerá posiblemente a finales de este otoño del 2012. Un manual muy practico y asequible que hace desaparecer las brumas gramaticales de los estudiosos normales.

Ediciones del Serbal está a punto de sacar mi "Descubrir la escritura. Técnicas básicas de redacción. Manual para estudiantes", un librito de 150 páginas que será de utilidad para los que redactamos.